Play & Grow Garden


Play & Grow Garden

The Play & Grow Garden is now open! We invite families with children ages 0-8 to visit the garden during its open hours to build, imagine, and challenge themselves. Kids can experiment with pebbles, make mud pies, walk the stump obstacle course, or make music on a wooden xylophone. Play & Grow is outside: exit through Sugar from the Sun and turn right; it’s just past the labyrinth. Children should be supervised at all times in the Play & Grow Garden.


Daily Noon – 5:00 pm, Wednesdays Noon – 7:00 pm. March 15 – November 15, 2014


The Play & Grow Garden has been made possible through generous support from Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities Program, Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation, Dr. Scholl Foundation, Richard Driehaus Foundation and Seabury Foundation.


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Message for Adults

Children need frequent unstructured play in nature for healthy development physically, intellectually, and emotionally. We invite you to explore this garden with your children, and to encourage children to discover the wonders of the natural world on their own. We hope you will bring your children often, watch their wonder at work, and stay as long as you can.

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Stump Obstacle Course, Hollow Logs, Billy Goat Gruff, and more!

In the Play & Grow Garden, children can practice tight-rope walking on a fallen log, play “hot lava” on boulders and stones, and perch atop a tall stump and stand on one leg. Nature’s circus tent is all around them, teaching them balance, strength and self-confidence.

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Nature’s Loose Parts

The natural “toys” scattered around the Play & Grow garden come from plants inside and outside the Conservatory. A large leaf could be a sail, a walnut could be a pinball, a stick might be a train track. Playing with natural materials is a great way for kids to discover uneven shapes, explore imaginative play, and feel good about their natural world.